Bills vs. Patriots – Buffalo’s Five Key Players


It’s a team game and all that, but who are the five most important players for Buffalo in the coming week’s game? Each week we’ll take a look in a feature called Five Key Players.

This week it’s going to take a HUGE effort from almost everyone if Buffalo has any chance of knocking off the mighty New England Patriots. But these five players are even more important than the rest:

CB Leodis McKelvin – McKelvin, to be frank, stunk last week. When Jason Campbell and some rookie no one’s heard of are targeting you and succeeding…that’s not a good sign headed into a game against Tom Brady and company. McKelvin has to be better if Buffalo is going to stop any of the NFL’s more powerful audiences. If he can’t cover anyone, Brady might throw for 500 yards again.

LB Shawne Merriman – While McKelvin will be important, there’s only so much the secondary can do against Tom Brady if there’s no pass rush. And Buffalo’s pass rush has been MIA in the first two games.  If there’s been a disappointing aspect to this amazing Bills season thus far, it’s been that Merriman hasn’t really been a factor. Someone’s gotta get to Brady this Sunday if Buffalo is to have a chance. If Merriman wanted to be that man, that’d help.

LB Nick Barnett – Barnett’s been very impressive so far, and Buffalo will need him again this week to come up big. One of the most frustrating things about watching the Bills lose to New England repeatedly over the past decade or so is that every third down the Patriots always have a freaking running back or tight end wide open. Barnett is a linebacker that can actually cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game, which will something Buffalo has lacked in recent years. Can it make a difference? Let’s hope so.

WR Stevie Johnson – The Bills need to put up points this week, and Johnson’s a huge piece of that potential puzzle. With Roscoe Parrish lost for the season, Johnson’s really the only true playmaker in the receiving corps (I love David Nelson, but he’s a possession guy, not a game-breaker). I can’t see Buffalo winning without Johnson having a big game.

And most importantly,

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Patriots are going to score in this game. Probably quite a bit. For Buffalo to score the upset, somehow and someway the Bills will have to score a large majority of the times they have the ball. That means Fitz can’t make mistakes. No killer interceptions. No bad throws on 3rd down. Is this a high standard? Sure. But beating the Pats is a high mountain to climb.